An exciting new initiative between Her Majesty’s Theatre and theatre producer John Frost, Kid’s Week aims to encourage children who haven’t had an opportunity to experience a professional theatre production to do so.
A clever, colourful, choco-licious production, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a musical adaptation of the well-loved Roald Dahl novel. The show premiered in Sydney in January, before moving to Melbourne in August, and has been delighting audiences of all ages across the country. The production is set to hit Brisbane from March 2020.
The first of its kind in Australia, the Kid’s Week experience mashes the wonderful world of musical theatre with the technical behind-the-scenes side, giving kids a full and rounded understanding of their night at the theatre. When accompanied by a full paying adult, every child 15 and under will receive a free ticket to the show.
Last night one of the show’s producers, Craig Donnell, took to the stage introducing the audience to various members of the backstage crew, and giving us an overview of the theatre itself. Audiences were taught specific theatre terminology such as stalls (the ground floor seating area), dress circle (the first level of seating), the grand circle (the top level of seating, also referred to as ‘the gods’), and the orchestra pit, where we were introduced to conductor David Piper. Craig then brought out Marie, one of the show’s stage managers, and she spoke about calling the show and what that means for all working backstage.
One of the show’s lighting managers spoke to us about how the show runs 2.4 million LED lights and has 135 stage lights including follow spots. Interestingly, the amount of power used in 13 shows (approximately 2 weeks) is equivalent to a year’s worth of power for the average family. We had a lovely demonstration of different lighting states, showing the audience how lighting can effect mood and tone in a show. We then had a demonstration of different sound effects from the sound desk, with Craig’s microphone cycling through voice effects including a reverb, a phone call, and a monster! We learned all about how mic plots work, and the big responsibility of the sound technicians during a musical.
7 special audiences members were picked to come and perform a real-time demonstration, with them each being allocated a different area, including stage management, conducting, acting, and lighting. We were then given a sneak peek of the cast, with the entire company coming out on stage in their full costumes alongside the backstage crew. The show has 210 costume changes and approximately 120 costumes. One of the wardrobe women explained to us what a quick change is, and that the fastest one in the show is less than 20 seconds! The show then preset for beginners, and audiences were given the opportunity to hear the stage manager calling all the pre-show announcements.
During interval, the curtain was brought back out so audiences were able to watch crew preset for the start of act 2, and Craig returned to give us some more theatre history and answer some audience questions. We learned all about theatre superstitions, and specifically why actors never say break a leg – but rather, we say chookas!
Kids week was a thoroughly informative and exciting opportunity for audiences, both young and old, to learn all about the theatre and its inner workings. The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory team have started something great, and I can’t wait to see other shows following suit.